Rooftopper on the top of skyscraper
An exciting new trend in the field of urban photography has been emerging lately. Rooftopping is defined as taking photographs from the roof or an edge of a building, particularly one accessed illegally, usually closed to the general public. Therefore we do not encourage anyone to try this on their own, as it poses extremely high risks. But it’s getting more and more attention today.
The hustle and bustle of traffic seems distant from the top.
These daredevils climb up buildings and take head-spinning shots, looking down on the city jungle. Rooftopping gets your adrenaline pumping even while just looking at the photos — not to mention how the photographers must have felt while leaning over the edge with nothing between them and a free fall but their courage.
This recent trend is not for you if you’re afraid of heights. Also, if looking at people walking around the edges of buildings with no security ropes makes you feel dizzy, you wouldn’t enjoy this either. It’s no EdgeWalk around the top of the CN Tower with all its protective measures, this is looking for the ultimate thrills. A pure rush of adrenaline. Fearless rooftoppers do not hesitate to climb the highest buildings in town, thousands of feet above the ground (in fact, they aim for the tallest for the best views and biggest challenges) to get the perfect shot. A common mindset seems to be that the more restricted the roof, the better, as it’s less likely that someone else was here before. Cranes, signs, and open standing structures become playgrounds for adults climbing for the perfect angle. The amazing bird’s eye views down on the city traffic full of tiny, little cars and people hundreds of metres below can certainly make your heart skip a beat! But after all, it’s about going that extra mile to bring something new to the world of art! And people will always be fascinated by the extraordinary — the unusual.
Rooftopping Toronto panorama
Financial District of Toronto
On the edge
Getting to the edges of skyscrapers requires a lot of sneaking around security and CCTV (often masking themselves), as most of the rooftops are closed because of the imminent danger of a fatal fall they could impose. But talk to any of these people, and they will say that the moment when they release the shutter for the ultimate proof of their courage, adding an epic picture to their collection, is well worth the effort. Occasionally, when rooftopping with somebody else, some snapshots show that they really did sit, stand, or lean over the edge. You’ll find yourself wishing it were just a photo collage because it looks so extremely dangerous. In cities full of millions of people, it feels strange to sit on top of the skyline, listening to the fading sounds of the jungle below. The perfect isolation. Looking over the city. Alone with your own thoughts. The community all over Canada is getting bigger as new members become fascinated with the idea, and even though for understandable reasons rooftoppers usually want to remain anonymous, there are some that have stepped out into the public. Jeff Chapman, also known as “Ninjalicious,” was a Toronto-based urban explorer, fountaineer, writer, and founder of Infiltration: the zine about going places you’re not supposed to go. He was also author and editor for YIP magazine and 25 successful issues of Infiltration, a magazine about all you need to know on the topic of urban exploring. Another well-known figure, Tom Ryaboi, is among the most active rooftoppers in Toronto, having featured his amazing work in many articles already. You can visit his website and have a look at your city from a whole new angle. Jonathan Castellino, whom we already featured in our previous article about urban exploration, was kind enough to share some of his works from the rooftops around Toronto with us. Better not to think what would happen if your foot slipped just one inch…
If you liked this article, you might be interested also in Urban Exploration where we featured more beautiful shots of Jonathan. Take a look inside some of Toronto’s oldest buildings, left abandoned.
Jonathan Castellino is a hobby urban archaeologist and photographer based in the City of Toronto. His photographs document the intersection of built environments and cultural landscape, as they speak to social imagination. While focusing primarily on contemporary urban ruins, his work also tends to take a broader perspective, examining the place and meaning of these spaces in urban life. Check out his beautiful photo essays covering many sites around Toronto, forming a unique urban archive of architectural decay. Jonathan also teaches this specific brand of photography to students at a school of restoration arts in Ontario.